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FAQ for School Consolidations

Why is Jeffco Public Schools consolidating schools?

To provide extraordinary experiences for every student and staff member in a declining enrollment environment, Jeffco must concentrate its resources on fewer schools. Ensuring that Jeffco Public Schools provides a world-class education that prepares all Jeffco students for bright and successful futures locally and globally requires building on strengths and solving the following challenges.

  • Jeffco has seats for approximately 88,000 students and currently serves 66,500, leaving approximately 21,500 empty seats.
  • Declining birth rates and unaffordable housing have shifted demographics and affected enrollment in Jeffco since 2001. In the last three years, Jeffco’s enrollment declined by 5,000 students.
  • Colorado school districts are funded based on how many students they have. While funding is supposed to follow each student to their school, Jeffco’s smallest schools cannot survive on per-pupil funding alone. To sustain small schools, Jeffco pulls funding from larger schools. The district’s investment in an individual student’s education in K-8 and middle schools is between $14,400 to $22,000. Jeffco pays the most to educate students in its smallest schools, and the funding is for basic school needs, it isn’t for better programming or more services. Jeffco’s smallest elementary and K-8 schools are often unable to provide one classroom per grade level, which results in combining two different grades into one classroom. Where there is one classroom for a grade level, it may be very full because enrollment cannot support two classrooms for that grade.
  • Educators in small schools often have fewer colleagues to collaborate with around lesson planning and instructional strategies.
  • Jeffco’s smallest elementary, middle and K-8 schools have fewer full-time services, activities and clubs than larger schools and may not offer before and after-school care because there are not enough students to support the program.
  • Jeffco's smaller K-8s and middle schools often have budgets that limit their elective offerings for students. While larger schools can offer a wide range of subjects like foreign languages, computer science, career exploration and STEM, smaller schools have to choose which electives to provide.

What are the benefits of school consolidation?

The vision for school consolidation is that students can attend a larger school with the resources to do the following:

  • Provide services, activities and peer interactions for extraordinary student experiences.
  • Have at least two teachers per grade level at the elementary level to provide extraordinary educator experiences.
  • Implement an academic plan that considers school communities' unique traits, aligns with Jeffco Thrives 2025 and promotes teaching excellence in the new designated neighborhood school.
  • Provide middle school-age students with various electives and course offerings that prepare them to succeed in high school

What are the Phase II consolidation criteria?

The criteria for Phase II consolidations include one or more of the following:

  • Urgently unsustainable enrollment
    • Under-enrolled schools struggle to provide extraordinary experiences for students and educators using their allocated funding.
    • Small schools receive supplemental funding pulled from other district schools to support basic staffing needs.
  • Initiation by a school community
    • School communities proactively suggest solutions to sustain their communities during declining enrollment.
  • Driven by the State accountability clock
    • If a school does not meet performance expectations for five years in a row, the Colorado State Department of Education (CDE) must take action.
    • State action typically means that a school must change dramatically. For example, state action can close a school or convert a traditional district-run school into a charter school.
    • State action occurs on a timeline that does not fully support students and families in making enrollment decisions or staff in interviewing for positions, so it is better for the district to take action before the state takes action.

Why were the criteria for Phase II different from the criteria used in the Phase I consolidations?

Since the spring of 2021, Jeffco has taken action to close 19 schools, including closing 16 small elementary schools as part of Phase I of Regional Opportunities for Thriving Schools.

The criteria used for Phase I of Regional Opportunities for Thriving Schools is not applicable for Phase II for the following reasons: 

  • At the beginning of the 2022-23 school year, Jeffco had 100+ elementary schools, very close together geographically.
  • Elementary schools have fewer students than most K-8 and middle schools, which are designed to serve more students, have the resources to serve a larger grade span and provide specialized instruction and elective courses in preparation for high school.
  • There are 17 middle schools in Jeffco, and these schools are geographically farther apart than elementary schools. 
  • Two articulation areas have two middle schools (Chatfield and Standley Lake).
  • Two articulation areas do not have middle schools because they have K-6 elementary schools and 7-12 Jr/Sr High Schools (Alameda and Jefferson).
  • There are five K-8 schools in Jeffco in only four articulation areas (Bear Creek, Chatfield, Arvada, Ralston Valley).

When were the Phase II consolidation decisions made?

  • August 24, 2023: District staff recommendations are shared with the Board of Education 
  • October 2 and October 3: Public hearings took place
  • October 12: The Board voted to close Arvada K-8 and Coal Creek Canyon K-8

Will there be a Phase III of Regional Opportunities?

There will not be another phase of Regional Opportunities for Thriving Schools.  However, we also will not turn our backs on the shifting demographics that continue to impact enrollment.

There is a boundary study underway (to be completed in Spring 2024) and an enrollment survey to better understand families’ enrollment choices (Fall 2023). As we learn more, we are committed to sharing that information with the community and helping families understand the factors that impact their school’s enrollment, annually.

Our goal will be to work with schools to effectively address enrollment issues as they emerge so that we don’t reach another point in time when large scale consolidations would once again become necessary.

My student will be moving from Arvada K-8, but I want to stay in the Arvada Articulation area. What are my school options?

Students who attend Arvada K-8 this year will be welcomed back to their designated neighborhood schools for the 2024-25 school year. There are many wonderful schools in the Arvada articulation area that can welcome your student:

  • North Arvada Middle School (NAMS) has enough room to welcome every 6th-8th grade student in the Arvada K-8 boundary area.
    • NAMS can also welcome many students living outside of the Arvada K-8 boundary area who wish to choice-enroll.
  • Three of the four Arvada area elementary schools have enough room to welcome every Kindergarten-5th grade student in the Arvada K-8 boundary area.
    • Lawrence Elementary is the closest school and can welcome all students who live in the Arvada K-8 boundary.
    • Secrest and Swanson are close to NAMS and can welcome many students who want to choice-enroll, particularly if the family has siblings who will attend NAMS.
  • The Significant Support Needs Center program will relocate to Pomona 6-12 in the 2024-25 school year.

District officials met with the Arvada K-8 staff and community in the spring about the school’s School Performance Framework (SPF), why is the reason for closure recommendation based on enrollment?

In the spring of 2023, the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) informed the district of potential state action due to Arvada K-8’s academic performance. The CDE asked the district if it wished to take early action on the school in the State Board’s process, which Jeffco declined.

After discussions with Arvada K-8 leaders, district leaders determined the need to provide transparent communication to the staff and community before the end of the 2022-23 school year regarding the school’s status on the state accountability clock and the implications of that, including possible closure by Jeffco’s Board based on performance.

During this time period, the district also applied for additional funding to improve student attendance, enhance behavioral supports for students, and increase the frequency in which administrators were able to observe classroom instruction and provide feedback to teachers.

During in-person meetings with the staff and community last spring, Jeffco leaders were clear that the district was examining Arvada K-8’s enrollment as part of Phase II of Regional Opportunities for Thriving Schools.

While the focus in the spring 2023 was on the school’s status on the state accountability clock, the district also communicated that clearing the accountability clock was not the only factor that would determine if Arvada K-8 would be recommended for closure.

What sustainable educational options will be available for Coal Creek Canyon beginning in the 2024-25 school year?

On August 24, 2023, Coal Creek Canyon K-8 was recommended for closure as the final part of Phase II of the Regional Opportunities for Thriving Schools initiative. At the October 12, 2023 Board meeting, the Board approved district staff's Regional Opportunities for Thriving Schools Phase II recommendation, which included the closure of Coal Creek Canyon K-8 as specified in the resolution.

In response to the unique community and geographic location of Coal Creek, the district opened an expedited charter authorization window to solicit applications for opening a school as soon as the 2024-25 school year.

As part of this expedited charter application window, Jeffco received a charter school application for the following school: Jefferson Academy. The Jeffco Board of Education voted to authorize Jefferson Academy Coal Creek Canyon to open, using the existing facility, beginning in August of 2024. The charter school will serve students in grades PK-8 and will also provide homeschool enrichment options for Coal Creek Canyon community members. 

What will adding Coal Creek Canyon’s Jeffco attendance area to Three Creeks do to enrollment at Three Creeks?

The district anticipates minimal impact to enrollment at Three Creeks K-8. Coal Creek Canyon K-8 is a small school, and there is only a maximum of 51 students who would be guaranteed enrollment at Three Creeks K-8. That means, at most, each classroom at Three Creeks might see an increase of one or two students as a result of this closure. 

Jeffco remains committed to providing an optimal learning environment for all students. Three Creeks K-8 is experiencing high levels of enrollment in general. The district has initiated a boundary study to ensure that all stakeholders are engaged as we explore the root causes of the enrollment dynamic and potential solutions.

My 6-8 grade student will be moving from a school with ~80 students at Coal Creek Canyon K-8 to Three Creeks K-8, which serves more than 1,000 students. How will my student be supported in this transition?

The district has learned many lessons from consolidating 19 schools since 2021, including the importance of intentional transitions.

Should the Board vote to approve the recommendation for Three Creeks K-8 to become the new neighborhood school for Coal Creek K-8 students in grades 6-8, school leaders will be working with staff, students and families to make meaningful connections with each other.

While the change could feel intimidating, the Three Creeks community has successfully worked to ensure their school has the tenants of a small school, including creating a welcoming community and knowing each student by name, strength and need.

How will students and staff be supported at impacted schools?

Ongoing support plans will be implemented at each impacted school and customized to each school’s needs. 

What will happen to the principal, teachers and staff at schools that are recommended for closure? 

Jeffco is committed to supporting administrators, educators and classified staff in exploring employment options at new designated neighborhood schools and other positions available throughout the district.

As a result of consolidations, some new neighborhood schools may require more certified and classified staff to serve incoming students.

School principals will continue to lead their school for the remainder of the current school year and will be considered for school leadership opportunities in Jeffco for the following school year.

What happens if the school my student attends is named as the new designated neighborhood school for a nearby school that is recommended for closure?

Your student’s school leader and staff will remain at your student’s school. School communities will be supported as they come together to become one strong and sustainable school community.

The focus will be on the district’s value of Belonging. In Jeffco, we cultivate environments where all students, staff, families and members of our community are safe, accepted, respected, included, encouraged by others, and feel that their voices and perspectives are valued.

New designated neighborhood school leaders are committed to creating opportunities to ensure that students and families whose buildings are closing feel that they belong.

Once a school closes, where will students be able to enroll?

All students who live in Jeffco will have guaranteed enrollment at their designated neighborhood schools, which is based on students’ address. All students can also enter the choice enrollment process through EnrollJeffco beginning in December 2023 and will receive a special priority in the choice enrollment process.

Boundary students

  • For students who live within Coal Creek Canyon K-8’s boundary area, their new neighborhood school will be Three Creeks K-8. 
  • For students who live within Arvada K-8’s elementary school boundary, their new neighborhood school will be Lawrence Elementary. 
  • For students who live within Arvada K-8’s middle school boundary, their new neighborhood school will be North Arvada Middle School. 

Choice-enrolled students

  • Students who live in Jeffco and are choice-enrolled into the closing school will return to their designated neighborhood school. Families can identify their designated neighborhood school in SchoolFinder
  • Students who do not live in Jeffco can to return to schools in their home district. 

If my student’s school is closing, how will my student get to their new school?

Eligibility for 2024-25 school year transportation will be aligned with policy EEA

Transportation routes are determined just prior to the start of school, as normal operational practice. If you have specific questions about transportation eligibility and operations please connect with your Jeffco transportation contacts.

What support will be provided to impacted families to navigate the EnrollJeffco process for the 2024-25 school year?

  • Students impacted* by school closures will receive a special priority** in the EnrollJeffco choice enrollment process. Round 1 opens on December 5, 2023.
  • Families will have access to Enrollment Specialists for assistance with navigating the 2024-25 school year enrollment process.

*Impacted students are those in non-transition grades when the school closed. They do not include students in transition grades like grade 5 or grade 8.

**Per district policy JFBA, choice enrollment is lottery-based on available space. Students affected by school closures get "ROFTS" priority above "Students who reside in Jefferson County". Those students impacted by multiple closures will receive priority above students receiving "ROFTS" priority.

Will impacted families have a priority in the EnrollJeffco process if they chose a school outside of neighborhood school?

Yes. All impacted students attending a school that will be closing will receive a priority for all district-managed elementary, middle and K-8 schools above the “Students who reside in Jefferson County” priority during Round 1 and Round 2.

Will families have an opportunity to visit new designated neighborhood schools?

Yes. Your student will have opportunities to visit their new neighborhood school and meet staff and classmates to begin creating a sense of belonging and community at their new school. Your student’s principal will be in touch about these opportunities during the school year.

What are you going to do with the facility once a school closes?

The district will take time to understand what will best serve the district and communities, which includes an analysis of systemic needs and feedback from everyone impacted. Decisions about building use will be made after conducting a process that includes public consideration of the district’s options. To learn more and view available properties, visit the Property Disposition webpage.

Do current enrollment numbers include Center Program and preschool students?

Enrollment and building utilization numbers on the FCB dashboard include Center Program students. The number of students in Center Programs are included separately on the dashboard. Because preschool is funded differently and is not part of an elementary school’s funded count, preschool students are listed separate from a school’s K-2, K-5, or K-6 enrollment on the FCB dashboard. However,  if a school has a preschool program it is factored into the building utilization percentage on the FCB dashboard.

How frequently will the information in the FCB Dashboard be updated?

Per Policy FCB, the FCB dashboard will be updated annually. It was last updated in Spring 2023 to include the addition of option schools, alternative education campuses (AECs) and charter school enrollment information. 

[Special Education] If my student’s school is part of the Phase II school consolidation, what will happen to school-based center programs?

The Significant Support Needs (SSN) Center program at Arvada K-8, which serves students in grades 6-8 will move to Pomona 6-12. 

Jeffco’s Office of Student Success will contact center program families with details and work to accommodate siblings of SSN families who are impacted. This team will also support transitions of current SSN program staff to Pomona with the students.

[Special Education] Will there be an opportunity to tour and meet the staff at the recommended facility?

School sites will schedule open house events for all potential new families.

[Special Education] When will we be communicated with about where our student will be placed?

Families will receive a call from a special education assistant director or director to discuss student support and placement.

Frequently Asked Questions Specific to Phase I

Learn more about Regional Opportunities for Thriving Schools Phase I on the Phase I recommendation webpage.

When did Phase I schools close and consolidate?

Schools part of Phase I closed at the end of the 2022-23 school year. The exception is Bergen Meadow Elementary and Preschool K-2 which is planned to combine with the Bergen Valley Elementary School to become PK-5 at the start of the 2024-25 school year. 

What was the criteria used for the Phase I elementary school consolidation recommendation?

The Phase I criteria was that on August 15, 2022 the school had:

  • An enrollment of less than 220 K-2, K-5, K-6 students OR
  • Is utilizing 45% or less of the capacity of its facility AND
  • There is an elementary school or schools less than 3.5 miles away that can serve the students from the closing school in the current articulation area*

* Source: EnrollJeffco

When were the Phase I consolidation decisions made?

District staff recommendations were shared with the Board of Education on August 25, 2022. The Board voted in favor of the staff recommendation on November 10, 2022. Decisions will be effective for the 2023–24 school year and the 2024–25 school year.

What preschools are available for students who attended a preschool that closed in Phase I?

Of the 34 pre-k classrooms at schools included in the Phase 1 elementary school consolidation, we will be able to place or maintain all but 14 in new boundary schools. The remaining 14 classrooms can be placed in nearby schools to maintain the total number of pre-k seats currently offered.

New pre-k sites for the 2023-24 school year

  • Maple Grove
  • Powderhorn
  • Sierra
  • Weber
Sites that will keep or expand existing pre-k classrooms in 2023-24
  • Campbell (ECE Center)
  • Eiber
  • Foothills
  • Hutchinson
  • Kendallvue
  • Lumberg
  • Ryan
  • Semper
  • Stevens

[Special Education] Did the school-based center programs at Phase I closing schools relocate to a different school?

Five of the center programs will be moved to receiving schools identified for Phase 1:

  • Arvada: Peck SSN → Secrest 
  • Dakota Ridge: Colorow AN → Powderhorn 
  • Standley Lake: Sheridan Green GT → Ryan 
  • Wheat Ridge: Wilmore Davis ASD → Stevens 
  • Wheat Ridge: Kullerstrand AN → Prospect Valley

Six of the center programs will be relocated:

  • Emory AN Program → Rose Stein
  • Thomson AN Program → Hackberry Hill if needed
  • Campbell SSN Program → Vanderhoof
  • Green Mountain SSN Program → Belmar
  • Glennon AN Program → Hutchinson
  • Vivian DHH Program → Maple Grove
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